Your skin is a highly specialized organ that serves many purposes. It covers your body and protects you against germs, extreme temperatures, and excessive moisture and dryness. Your skin helps control your body temperature and also alerts your brain to danger if it senses extreme heat or cold. In addition to these functions, your skin also can provide information about your age, lifestyle, and general health. The following changes in your skin may be signs of an underlying health problem. If you notice any of these signs, contact your physician to determine if medical intervention is needed.
12. Change in Moles
Check with your doctor If you notice a sudden change in an existing mole or the development of new moles. The American Cancer Society offers the ABCDE rule to help determine if a mole is a sign of melanoma. A stands for a mole that is asymmetrical, with unmatched halves. B means a border with irregular or jagged edges. C stands for a mole that has more than one color. D represents a mole with a diameter larger than a pencil eraser. E is for evolving, which means a mole that is changing in size, shape, or appearance.
11. Lumps and Bumps
Occasionally a run-in between your knee and the edge of the coffee table can leave behind a tell-tale lump. However, you should watch for any unexplained lumps or bumps beneath your skin. Masses under the surface may have a soft consistency or feel hard when touched. They may be due to fluid-filled pockets of flesh called cysts. Other masses are lipomas, which are benign tumors made up of fatty tissue. A hematoma can form a lump as blood pools in the area and causes swelling. Notify your doctor if you detect any unexplained masses or bumps on your body.
10. A Dark Band on Your Nail
A black line running up and down the length of your fingernail may be a sign of melanoma. This rare type of cancer is not caused by sun exposure. However, the American Academy of Dermatology lists a family history of melanoma or trauma to the nail bed as risk factors for this type of cancer. Other symptoms of nail melanoma include pain, drainage from the nail, and nail cracking or splitting. Additionally, the skin surrounding the nail may take on a different color than the rest of your skin. Contact your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms.
9. White Fingernails
If your fingernails have turned mostly white with just a narrow sliver of pink at the top, you may have a condition called Terry’s nails. White fingernails may be a sign of liver problems. Studies report that Terry’s nails are linked to diseases such as hepatitis, liver failure, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease. Lindsay’s nails is a condition in which the bottom half of the nail appears to be white while the top half appears to be pink or brown. This condition may be a sign of kidney disease.
8. Nail Pitting
Pitted nails may be a sign of psoriasis. Psoriasis in this area may appear as tiny little dents or pockmarks in the nails. It may also cause the fingernail to become brown, crumbly, and loose. If you suffer from psoriasis on other areas of your body, check your fingernails to catch early signs of nail psoriasis. Nail psoriasis can be challenging to treat. However, the American Academy of Dermatology reports that there are many treatment options available to prevent the condition from worsening.
7. A Dark, Velvety Neck Rash
A dark, velvety rash along the folds of your neck may be a condition called acanthosis nigricans. In addition to the folds of the neck, this rash may also appear in your armpits or groin area. Risk factors for this rash include obesity and a family history of acanthosis nigricans. The Mayo Clinic lists diabetes, ovarian cysts, and thyroid disorders as possible causes of this rash. Additionally, certain drugs such as niacin, hormone medications, and corticosteroids can cause this condition. Furthermore, cancers such as lymphoma or certain tumors may cause acanthosis nigricans.
6. Dimpled or Pitted Skin
Skin that appears dimpled or pitted may indicate an underlying medical condition. In some cases, the skin may take on an appearance similar to the texture of an orange peel. Such pitting of breast tissue may indicate inflammatory breast cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. A skin infection, such as cellulitis, is another possible reason for skin pitting to occur. Furthermore, pitting or dimpling of the skin due to swelling may be a symptom of diabetes. Contact your physician if you notice unexplained furrows or dimples in your skin.
5. Unexplained Bruising
Bumps and bruises are usually linked to memorable, clumsy mishaps. However, excessive or unexplained bruising may be a sign of something more serious. Leukemia is a condition in which the body produces excessive amounts of immature white blood cells. Then, in turn, the body is unable to produce enough healthy red blood cells. According to the American Cancer Society, shortages of red blood cells can cause weakness, fatigue, frequent infections, bleeding, and bruising. Other symptoms of acute lymphocytic leukemia may include weight loss, fever, night sweating, and a decreased appetite.
4. A Bullseye Rash
A rash that appears in the shape of a shooting target or bullseye is a hallmark of Lyme disease. This rash sports a red center, a ring of ordinary flesh, and another red circle surrounding them both. Lyme disease is an infection that is transmitted to humans through tick bites. Other symptoms include fever, headache, weakness, and tiredness. It is critical to treat symptoms of Lyme disease. The CDC reports that the infection may spread to other organs, including the heart, joints, and nervous system. A course of antibiotics can treat this infection before it spreads to other body tissues.
3. Yellowing of the Skin or Eyes
If you notice your skin or the whites of your eyes have taken on a yellowish hue, you will need to notify your physician. This condition, called jaundice, occurs when bilirubin builds up in your bloodstream. This buildup of bilirubin may be due to a blocked bile duct. The Cleveland Clinic lists hepatitis, alcoholism, autoimmune diseases, and certain medications as other possible reasons for jaundice. Jaundice clears up with the treatment of the underlying disorder. To help prevent jaundice, maintain an appropriate weight, avoid excessive alcohol consumption, and steer clear of hepatitis infections.
2. Skin Tags
Skin tags are little nodules of skin that, although non-cancerous, can be aggravating and unsightly. These small growths tend to grow in folds of skin, such as in the neck area. They may also occur in areas where skin rubs together, such as under the arms or on the eyelids. They are not painful, but skin tags may be irritating if they catch on clothing. In some cases, skin tags may be linked to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects some women and causes irregular menstrual cycles and ovarian cysts.
1. Thickened Skin on the Ankle
If the skin of your ankle becomes thick and appears darker than the skin around it, you may suffer from venous stasis. Venous stasis is a circulatory problem. It is critical to seek medical attention if you suspect you suffer from decreased circulation. Other symptoms of venous stasis may include swelling of the legs or ankles, aching legs, skin that is leathery in appearance, and itching. Venous stasis is often linked to varicose veins, a condition in which faulty valves in the veins prevent blood from flowing back up to the heart.